A Pathway to Joy

Searching for shells

Shannon at the beachOne of my most rewarding friendships is with a woman who I seldom see. A phone call between us is rare. Once in awhile a Facebook “Like” or Post notifies the other that one of us is thinking of the other. Still, we are connected.

I met her about eleven years ago on a trip to a small village in Mexico. Since then our trips there have coincided intermittently, sometimes for a hug as we pass each other to/from the airport. Sometimes for a couple of days. And for the last two years, a more extended period.

I have always enjoyed her company.  Although we have different patterns in the small village…she on the beach, me writing in my hammock and visiting with the children, we are good travel companions. We usually visit at least once during the day and have dinner together. This year, I came to an even greater appreciation of our friendship.as I took the time to know her better. We’re each familiar with the other’s story and share a propensity for self-examination and a search for spiritual growth.

Shelican* is always smiling. Her attitude is joyful. Her conversations are positive. Her laughter bubbles up spontaneously into a belly laugh. Her mouth turns up instead of down.

This year I asked her, “To what do you attribute your happiness?”

“Gratitude,” she said after a split-second of thought.

In the weeks since I have seen her, I have pondered and puzzled over what might stand in the way of my gratitude. And I have come up with nothing.

Gratitude is waiting like cool water on a hot day. At will I can turn on the tap that releases its refreshing stream to wash away any worrisome thoughts that stick to the edges of my mind. The churning thoughts of discontent, of resistance, of scarcity, of turmoil float away on it’s abundant flow.

I have always been blessed in my life. And I certainly have heard of gratitude as a path to joy. I don’t believe, however, that I have ever had such a wonderful object lesson.

For that I am grateful to Shelican.


*(my daughters nicknamed her for the ubiquitous birds in the area because she is constantly roving the beach, bending over to look at shells.)


  1. That is a lovely name Shelican. Will borrow it for someone I know. Gratitude is an underrated trait in joyful people. All of them will agree with you that it is the bedrock on which their lives revolve.


  2. What a lovely article, and your phrase that gratitude is like ‘cool water on a hot day’ is masterful. Thank you for another heart-warming share. Blessings, Gina


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